A total of 74 players from the Southeastern Conference were invited to the 2016 NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Alabama led the way with nine attendees and Mississippi State sent six, which was a record for the Bulldogs.
But who left the NFL’s biggest pre-draft spectacle with the most street cred earned in front of scouts, front-office executives, coaches and the millions watching on TV?
Here are three winners from the SEC West from the 2016 combine:
Cyrus Jones, CB – Alabama
One of the few things Jones did not excel at Monday at the combine was his 40-yard dash time (4.49 seconds, tied for 16th among members of the secondary). He absolutely showed off elsewhere, however.
Jones displayed amazing footwork in on-field drills and broke to the football smoothly, an attribute he also displayed well at the Senior Bowl last month. The former Auburn star also demonstrated good hands and displayed functional speed that didn’t pop off the screen during his 40.
Look at Cyrus Jones…Speed out of that break.
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) February 29, 2016
Jonathan Jones, CB – Auburn
Where Cyrus Jones didn’t break land-speed records in the 40, Jonathan Jones made some money Monday by leading all defensive backs with a 4.33 dash, only two people all week — Keith Marshall (UGA) and Will Fuller (Notre Dame) — were faster.
If Jones’ speed wasn’t enough, only Sean Davis from Maryland (21) lifted 225 pounds more among the defensive backs than Jones did with his 19 reps. Jones will use a positive Senior Bowl and stellar combine to boost his draft stock. He came to Indianapolis with a fifth-round projection from CBS Sports, but absolutely showed why he needs to be drafted earlier.
Kenyan Drake, RB – Alabama
I whispered this question during the Senior Bowl and now may be ready to ask it out loud after watching Drake blow up the NFL combine: Could Drake end up in five years as a better NFL running back than Derrick Henry?
Drake showed off agility that likely made scouts drool and displayed incredible burst. His 4.21-second 20-yard shuffle (only two RBs were better) and 123-inch broad jump (only four RBs were better) tell part of the story, and his 40-yard dash at 4.45 seconds tells the rest.
Here is Kenyan Drake. Love this kid. Going to crush it on passing downs.
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) February 26, 2016
If Drake can stay healthy and reduce costly fumbles, he’s fast enough and athletically gifted to play at a Pro-Bowl level in the NFL.
Dak Prescott, QB — Mississippi State: Boy did Prescott show great touch and accuracy during passing drills. He was fast (4.79 seconds in his 40) and only four quarterbacks jumped farther than his 116-inch broad jump.
Laquon Treadwell, WR — Ole Miss: Treadwell continued to show on the field that he catches everything thrown his way, and he’s got great balance and ability to adjust to miss-thrown balls in the air.